December 5th, 2013
04:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama lived with Kenyan uncle prior to law school, White House says

Update 7:12 p.m. ET, 12/6/2013

(CNN) - The White House clarified Thursday that President Barack Obama did live with his Kenyan uncle in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a "brief period of time" before attending Harvard Law School in the 1980s after previously saying there was no record of the two ever meeting.

The clarification comes amid GOP criticism over the issue of Obama’s honesty and trustworthiness, two personal traits the president has taken a hit on in recent polls.

Obama apologizes for health coverage cancellations due to Obamacare

Onyango Okech Obama, President Obama's uncle, was granted permission Tuesday by a federal immigration judge to stay in the United States, where he has lived illegally for the past five decades. In his testimony before the judge, Obama's uncle mentioned that then-student Obama had stayed with him for three weeks after he was accepted into law school.

The White House was asked about their relationship in 2011 at which time the administration said there was no record of the President and Onyango Okech Obama having ever met. Carney retracted that information Thursday saying that the President himself had never been consulted about their relationship.

"Back when this arose, folks looked at the record, including the President's book, and there was no evidence that they had met. And that was what was conveyed. Nobody spoke to the President," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"When Omar Obama said the other day and there were reports that he had said the other day that President Obama, back when he was a law school student, had stayed with him in Cambridge, I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask him."

Carney continued: "Nobody had asked him in the past, and the President said that he in fact had met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school and that he stayed with him for a brief period of time until his, the President's, apartment was ready."

Carney said after that period, Obama and his uncle "saw each other once every few months while the President was in Cambridge" but eventually "fell out of touch."

The White House said they had no record that the President had met his relative after his uncle was arrested for drunk driving in 2011. The driving violation brought to light Onyango Okech Obama's illegal status, and he was then ordered to regularly check in with immigration.

"The President has not seen Omar Obama in 20 years, and has not spoken with him in roughly 10 years," Carney said, adding that Obama had "absolutely zero" involvement in his relative's deportation case.

Onyango Okech Obama isn't the first of the President's relatives to have issues with immigration status. Onyango Okech Obama's sister, Zeituni Onyango, was granted permission to stay in the United States in 2010 after a six-year-plus legal battle over her status.

While the immigration court was considering Zeituni Onyango's case in 2009, then-White House spokesman Ben Labolt said Obama would stay out of his aunt's immigration case and "the president believes that the case should run its ordinary course."

It seems that Onyango Okech Obama's appearance and mention of his nephew's stay before law school in immigration court earlier this week was what prompted the White House to take measures to correct the record.

The administration's initial denial that the President had met his uncle and subsequent reversal of the record raises speculation that Onyango Okech Obama's court appearances and immigration status first led the White House to distance the President from the controversy and deliver misleading information.

The President is already facing questions about his credibility after technological issues and reports of canceled insurance plans plagued the recent rollout of parts of Obamacare, the sweeping healthcare reform law passed in his first term. A CNN/ORC International survey released last month indicates that 53% of Americans now believe that Obama is not honest and trustworthy, the first time that a clear majority in CNN polling has felt that way.

The reversal over details of Obama's relationship with his uncle could prove to be another detriment to Obama's credibility with the public.

Obama: People do think I'm trustworthy

And Republicans say the White House's change of story indicates a lack of trustworthiness in the President.

"It just goes back to this thing of the White House not being completely forthright with facts with the public. It's what's contributed to his trustworthiness numbers going way down," said Republican Strategist and CNN contributor Ana Navarro said Friday.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Obama has been "lying to the American people."

"He's been exposed. And these little lies, like, you know, lying about whether you met someone or not that's been significant in your life - listen, those are big things because it goes to the character of the person that you're dealing with," he said Thursday on Fox News.

"And President Obama is proving himself not to be trustworthy on the small things and now the very big things."

Obama attended Harvard Law School beginning in 1988 when he was 28 after serving as a community organizer in Chicago.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (1,714 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    This man's life is a lie.... Everything evolves as facts come out. He couldn't even tell the truth in his autobiography.

    December 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Dunz

    You guys are nut jobs. Maybe it's best to go do something meaningful with your lives instead of obsessing over irrelevant nonsense.

    December 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Glen

    Now I. Know American ( most ) are stupid. they vote for Obama. He is 3rd world country crook politician. Can you not see it. Stupid american

    December 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Gregory

    Liar, Liar Pants on Fire

    December 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. E. Angus

    His whole presidency has been built on lies and campaigning tactics. What a tool and I voted for him I am ashamed to say.

    December 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. billmelater1

    Another Day, Another Lie exposed.

    December 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Promised Land

    Once again, it matters because his Uncle was here illegally. Should it matter that the leader of this country is truthful? Should the people of this country have faith that our highest leader will conduct herself or himself with the highest integrity? Is it ok to lie because you make the argument that everybody else lies? Really? Come on people, stop the party loyalty crap because it is tearing our country apart. Do the right thing!

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Shut it!

    Shutup....Bush went there.

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Big_D

    I guess this matters to somebody in the GOP for some reason. If the GOP had to expose the folks they work for on a daily basis they would never get elected again. Who cares that Obama knew his uncle or stayed with him for three weeks over two decades ago?

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. Fish

    I simply cannot understand how any administration can self-destruct like this, there must be a reason why truth is an orphan in the White House!!! Even a kid can lie better than this!!!

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Usually you would say this guy is either a pathalogical liar or the most incompetent man ever elected POTUS. In this case, I actually believe it's both! When you have to constantly go back and correct the record on things that were known, or should have been known, you tend to have been a liar from the beginning. When you constantly don't know anything and have no control over things you were put in charge of, then you are incompetent. How many things are we to believe that he was supposedly left in the dark about? This guy just plays stupid on every issue to avoid the truth. He is a disgrace to the office...plain and simple.

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. jcb

    HA A, I'll none of his staff told him and he found out by reading a newspaper. LIAR

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. Andy

    What a liar, a pathological liar

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. dkc_2001

    Why do they add fuel to the Fox News fire? I can already hear the crap spewing form Rush right now...

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Robert

    A US president lied about an embarrassing aspect of his past? Scandalous!!
    He should be honest and forthcoming like all of his predecessors were.
    I am shocked to the core.
    I will have to move to Canada where politicians have morals.

    December 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. JL

    The biggest fake ever. Theres not a single thing legit about this man child

    December 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. U.S. American

    This epic failure wouldn't know the truth if it smacked him upside his head. You voted for him once to prove you're not a racist. You voted for him again to prove that you're an idiot.

    December 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. WhatMakesNoSense

    Why would his Staff answer a question on his behalf if they don't know the answer? Did they assume the President put every detail of his entire life in his book? Are things so disconnected at the WH that it is easier to check the President's book and "records" rather than just asking him directly?

    December 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. brad

    I call shenanagins! Time to get our brooms and clean house!

    December 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Dukenk

    Isn’t it sad that some people want the President of the United States to spend time being interrupted to answer questions about meeting an uncle or living with him for a few weeks? I would rather have the President be consulted, updated or questioned about important things like: War, Foreign Policy, Iran, or North Korea.
    Really, there are people that would rather have the President be pulled away to answer meaningless questions? Wouldn't everyone want the President to give all his time to matters of National Security rather than matters of Uncle Obama? Some people need to reevaluate what is truly important for the well being of our Nation.

    December 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. leitskev

    Why would anyone believe a single thing this admin says? They resemble third world petty dictators that lie so automatically that it becomes a joke. But what is most dangerous is how many people still accept everything they say without question. If you're a liberal, I understand you want to believe the people you voted for, but isn't there a point where reality penetrates the shroud of fantasy and you have to admit..these people are habitual liars? Even the Nixon people told the truth sometimes. Liberals are hurting their own party with their inability to admit the obvious.

    December 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  22. beevee

    looks like some one is still trying to rake up dust on president Obama's past just tok make him look bad or make him a liar. What is the point of this worthless news coverage any way. We have more worrisome things to take care of as a nation with president Obama leading. Both parties have to work with the president not criticize him for every little thing.

    December 6, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. TLORop

    So he's a liar because he didn't say anything?

    December 6, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  24. jcb

    LIAR! When did e find out? read it in newspaper?

    December 6, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. Jerry

    This administration cant get their stories straight on anything. Why all the lies? The president seems to never know anything about anything. Who cares if he lived with his uncle for awhile. Please just start telling the truth........

    December 6, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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